Waterson Lam’s exclusive interview from Designboom「设计邦独家采访」

Waterson: Hello Students and everyone. Happy and excited to be here to share ideas with everyone on Designboom.

Designboom: Can you introduce in50 Studio? Do you accept student intern?

Waterson: Our Chinese name is 昱华建筑 and english name is in50 Design Studio. Means in 50 years or design that takes into account the future so everything design we do must be sustainable and our mission to create a brighter tomorrow for people.

At in50 we are little bit different. We don’t start designing right away, we will start by ask QUESTION like what is the real MEANINGS? and do lots of RESEARCH. We want to RE-DEFINE things and will not accept merely what has been done before as fact, for us INNOVATION IS SURVIVAL. We want to give people an experience that is a little bit different.

Yes, we welcome student interns at in50 Studio. We are looking for students with new ideas and the following skills and experience:

  1. Design Skills: Good hand sketch and model making; Fast learner and conceptual thinker.
  2. Communication: Speaks English and Mandarin; Can do brainstorming of ideas in a team setting and easy to talk with.
  3. Computer Skills: AutoCAD; Sketch UP; Rhino; Photoshop; Lumion; 3D Max; Powerpoint, Outlook and Excel.
  4. For us to consider you for an intern position please send your portfolio and CV to the following email: hr@in50design.com


Waterson:我们工作室中文名字是昱华建筑,英文名字是in50 Design Studio。in50的名称来源于50年以后的样子,我喜欢用未来的眼光思考现在的问题。in50工作室最大的特点就是独立思考问题的工作方法,拿到一个CASE,我们不会立马就动手设计,而是先思考,寻找出这个案子做原始的意义和最本质的需求是什么?
  1. 会说中英文;
  2. 会CAD\PS\SU\RHINO\3DMAX等软件及优秀的手绘能力;
  3. 拥有开放讨论的团队精神,不害怕提出自己的见解。

Designboom: Which work are you most satisfied with?

German Centre in Taicang 1,

Waterson: We always begin by doing research and talking to the people to understand what they do at the German Centre office. Our new German friends Fabian Großkopf mentioned at the time of our first meeting that “It is a home away from home for German Companies and other international companies”. And “it should have good German quality and everything should be solid and work”. Through our experience talking and working with our new German friends, we saw that people at the German Centre are warm, kind, simple to work with and most importantly they are very people oriented.

After doing research on the German Bauhaus school of design, the Chinese Suzhou garden and working through how to put in our in50 low carbon fun factor DNA. We tailor made the office into a beautiful oriental garden space with a great smelling German bakery & cafe. At the heart a large atrium space with a huge vertical green wall going up 3 stories along side large glazed windows bringing lots of natural sunlight into the office interiors. This new German Centre Taicang office is targeted to be both LEED and DGNB certification.


KI Furniture Showroom Project 2,

Waterson: KI is an American furniture brand famous for Healthcare and Education furniture and soon they will open a brand new flagship showroom in Beijing China.

Traditional furniture showrooms in this region has been design we guess with a ruler and as a result looking straight and lacks the “in50 fun factor” as furniture are merely displayed and cannot be played and not very fun.

This furniture showroom is highly interactive between space, furniture and people. Environments are easily controlled and can even intelligently senses people and interact with us. We added lots of fun factor so that anyone can play and take the furniture for a test drive, as well as talk with star designers from around the world using the latest touch screen and video conferencing technology.

Our inspiration came from the human form like all KI furniture. Everything from the lights on the ceiling and wall; to the tables and cabinets and even rugs on the floor take cues from the curvature of our human form. We have taken customisation seriously in this furniture showroom with almost everything tailored to suit the size and personality of this showroom space. We are taking full advantage of the ability of the factory in China to easily customise.

Waterson: 第二个项目,我想介绍KI家具展厅,KI是个很有名的美国家具公司。IN50认为家具展厅应该是一种好玩儿、形式跟着人体走的设计。空间、家具、人三者很好的互动起来。这些家具都可以试坐。希望普通人前往购买家具的时候,通过视频会议、触摸屏和家具设计大师们进行沟通。里面所有的设计都是量身定做的。

Designboom: Is all the design fields different? or are they related?

Waterson: I don’t see any boundaries between different design fields for myself. For example when I was in Paris working with Karl Lagerfeld the lead fashion designer for Chanel and Fendi for the new Karl Lagerfeld 5 star hotel in Macau with the B+H design team we talked about design without any borders for fashion design or architecture.

As well I myself have been trained as an architect and practise in Canada, in China I worked as an Interior Design and also do Graphics and Furniture design for spaces we design. In my mind a designer can design anything and everything if he or she is determined and takes what they do seriously enough. Of course practising in a new design field may take longer to understand and to get good at.


Designboom: How to train ones design thinking?

Waterson: Live life to the fullest noticing all the little details and use that experience to train ones design thinking. For example: you need to go to experience a 5 star hotel before you can design one.

I have fortune to have travelled to many places around the world and many times I take these experiences back with me. One time when I was in Paris staying at a hotel where they have a huge green wall where I was having breakfast. So I brought back the idea of working in a garden and used it in my works. It can happen anywhere with an open mind ideas will float in and out very easily.


Designboom: What do you think about the current market this year specifically Architecture and Interior Design?

Waterson: I have noticed that the Architectural Market in China has slowed down especially in the first tier cities. But for Interior especially office is still good as people need to renovate every 3-5 years. As well the population in China is ageing rapidly so the future of Healthcare and Elderly homes will see an increase I believe. Of course like Apple company during the market melt down in 2009 their revenue maintain a high profitability. At in50 we believe INNOVATION IS SURVIVAL so if your products or services has great value to people and you are always innovating then I believe the market situation is not a big factor.


Designboom: How is the design market in Canada developing? Is it suitable for going to study? What kind of good university is available?

Waterson: I have not been living in Canada for more than 10 years now.

But I have always been grateful for my Canadian education. It has taught me to learn, to do research and have my own critical thinking. I would definitely recommend going to Canada to study.

In terms of University I would say pick the one that suits you, not everyone is wired the same. I went to Ryerson University that was more hands on and technical for there architectural science studio program we make lots of models and have structural class where we actually test metal. Some of my friends like theory and concept so University of Toronto is good. Waterloo University is also good if you like co-op programs where you work during and carry on University studies consecutively. So coming out of university you will have real work experience already.


Designboom: What is the difference between work in china and work in Canada?

Waterson: Working in Canada for the 5-6 years I have noticed working life and social life is more separate. When arriving in China in 2005 I was not used to having to answer the phone after work. But I did enjoy going out with my team after work and doing much more team building. Life and work in China is more linked.


Designboom: Outside of work time, what kind of interesting things do you like to do?

Waterson: I like watching movies and going travelling with the family. We have taken our son to many places in Europe, Asia and Canada. It is interesting to see how people live and the different cultures and food.


Designboom: What is the advise you want to share with young designers?


  1. DREAM BIG and NEVER believe anyone who tell you NO! Rather ask yourself HOW, can I get there?
    What you learn in school is a lot about the past and some about the present. But school teaches you very little about the future! However you will need to build a career for yourself and family in the future. So how can you be prepared?You need to learn how to learn, start by doing research, understanding how people of the past solve the similar problem so you “don’t have to reinvent the wheel”. But then really think and evaluate things for yourself, through YOUR OWN EYES and experiences. A book about love cannot give you the real feeling of holding a girls hands for the first time, you must experience it for yourself. Paris bakery story, hearing a story about how good the bread taste in Paris will not give you the taste of fresh baked bread standing in front of actual french bakery.
  3. Give back to society in your way.
    I received helped from the red cross when my family was in Thailand refugee camp and we were sponsored to Canada, so now it is my mission to help others when I can.This year we made our contributed to the design of a Sino-German Handicap workshop in Taicang. This workshop allows people with disability such as the hearing impaired or people with minor mental disability to get back to work building simple circuit boards or machine parts, within an environment that they can easily adapt to and manufacturing companies will pay for their labour for the numbers of parts they are able to assemble.

    This is the first of it’s kind that we know happening in China. It allows people with disability to feel important and part of society. Passing on the kindness in your own way by helping others can really bring happiness. I encourage everyone to lend a hand when you can, it makes our lives a little warmer. It is even more important in places that are harder to do so.


  1. 不要相信任何否定你的梦想的人。你只需问自己我怎样能做到,用什么方法去做。
  2. 学习怎么去快速学习。学校很少教我们未来的事情,未来很多事会和现在不一样,我们要去调研,学习以前的人怎么解决问题的和一些实用的实践方法。要用自己的身体去体验,用自己的思想独立去思考现在和未来。
  3. 乐于助人的精神,构建温暖的人文社区。今年我们在在太仓设计的一个项目是没有收费,是德国和中国合作的一个残疾人工作室。在中国很少见这种项目,让残疾人感受到他们融入到社会里,他们也是很重要的,社会是需要他们的。特别是在很难生存下来的北京,我希望这种温暖互相传递。

Designboom: Thank you for sharing, bye-bye Waterson.

Waterson: Bye-bye students, bye-bye Mia of Designboom, thank you.

设计邦:让我们在I can have a big dream的愉快精神中结束访谈吧,同学们再见~Thank you for your sharing,bye-bye~Waterson~
Waterson:bye-bye同学们,bye-bye Mia,谢谢。